PEORIA, Ill. -- The search may soon be on for a private building inspection company for the city of Peoria.
The issue is drawing deep battle lines between the city and some neighborhood association members.
A handful building inspectors protesting outside city hall recently, may be few in numbers but their allegiance with some neighborhood associations runs deep. Martin Warren Neighborhood Association president Lorraine B. Carter said some code enforcement inspectors are responsible for getting residents to clean up their properties.
"I think the city should take a walk around the South Side of Peoria and really talk to some of the residents. They cannot blame the breakdown of the system on the inspectors who are doing their jobs," Carter said.
Not all problems get fixed. Carter said long after code enforcement inspectors tag some homes as uninhabitable nothing is done to fix them. She showed our cameras several homes within a three mile radius, many of them with code enforcement stickers that have been torn off or changed color due to the length of time they have been up. There were five homes in the 1500 block of Kettelle Street with one problem after another.
Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich acknowledged the problem but said the city's spends nearly $2 million a year on building inspections. Two years ago the city restructured several departments and now it is considering outsourcing code enforcement to save money.
"If the private sector can help us to stretch those dollars even further to apply additional resources to the problems that's one of the things we're going to look at how we can do that," Urich said.
Denise Moore who is running for first district city council seat, where many of these homes are located, said in the end residents are left in the dark.
"They don't know what happening in their own communities and they feel that when they talk to folks they're not getting the right answers or correct answers or complete answers and I think addressing that would be helpful," Moore said.
It is unclear if outsourcing the inspections or code enforcement would speed up the process for fixing old dilapidated buildings or prolong the problem further.
The city council would have to vote on hiring an outside company. That decision may not come until May.